New Update Video: House Design Plans, Clearing Brush, & Mushroom Foraging


This past weekend we went out to our property to work on clearing some brush around our house building site and film a quick update video. I’ve been posting new recipe videos on our youtube channel, but I realized that I hadn’t given any update on our living situation in the form of a video.

While we were there we checked our wildlife camera and foraged for mushrooms to take photos of and practice our mushroom identification. We found quite a variety of mushrooms and even an edible golden chanterelle! (light orange mushroom in upper right corner)

 We’re still trying to identify all of them, but I believe the reddish ones are  Russula Atropurpurea , the little black one is a type of ink cap, and I’m almost positive the light orange one in the upper right corner is a golden chanterelle.

We’re still trying to identify all of them, but I believe the reddish ones are Russula Atropurpurea, the little black one is a type of ink cap, and I’m almost positive the light orange one in the upper right corner is a golden chanterelle.

 Our wetland is covered with moss and mushrooms right now.

Our wetland is covered with moss and mushrooms right now.

 These are either  Gymnopus  or  Armillaria  aka   honey mushrooms. We didn’t take a spore print of these so we can’t be sure.

These are either Gymnopus or Armillaria aka honey mushrooms. We didn’t take a spore print of these so we can’t be sure.

 Here’s a close-up of What I Believe is a chanterelle.

Here’s a close-up of What I Believe is a chanterelle.

 Teeny Tiny Pacific Tree Frog

Teeny Tiny Pacific Tree Frog

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 Zeller’s Boletes

Zeller’s Boletes

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We just submitted our design plan for building permits, so hopefully in a few months we can begin the building process. Until then we’re enjoying the last few sunny days here before the rainy season sets in for a while.

I hope everyone else had a great weekend and got to spend some peaceful time outdoors. I’ll be back with a brand new recipe very soon!


Walking around our hazy forest & a big bunny yawn

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This past Sunday, we drove out to our property in the forest to walk around and see how it looks in the hazy, smoky wildfire weather that we've been experiencing this past week here just outside of Seattle, Washington. 

 NASA IMages of the wildfires and smoke

NASA IMages of the wildfires and smoke

The smoke was so thick that the sun could only break through occasionally, but when it did the quality of the light became almost cinematic and orange-tinged. I didn't bring my camera out but I had my cell phone, so I took a few photos anyway. 

 Our house building site

Our house building site

We're just about ready to submit our building permits and hopefully start building our house within the next year, but we're in no big rush and we're making sure to spend a lot of time on the house design before finalizing everything. 

The land we purchased is seven acres in an old logging forest with some evidence of old growth tree stumps. One particular stump and downed tree that we have is 600 years old! The majority of the trees currently standing are new growth evergreen trees, around 50-60 years old.

The climate in the Pacific Northwest makes our forest a temperate rainforest, full of lush ferns, evergreen trees, and moss blanketing everything.

 sword ferns and mossy logs

sword ferns and mossy logs

 scraggly moss-covered maple near the wetland

scraggly moss-covered maple near the wetland

 View on the Noth side, looking towards thousands of acres of logging forest owned by of Department of Natural Resources 

View on the Noth side, looking towards thousands of acres of logging forest owned by of Department of Natural Resources 

 orange smoke-diffused light on the trees

orange smoke-diffused light on the trees

 It can be a little difficult to traverse the land sometimes with the occasionally unstable, perpetually decaying forest floor.

It can be a little difficult to traverse the land sometimes with the occasionally unstable, perpetually decaying forest floor.

 The meadow full of sword ferns and alder trees in front of our house building site

The meadow full of sword ferns and alder trees in front of our house building site

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It's not quite mushroom season here yet- we usually see the most mushrooms/fungi here in October once the rains begin, but we did find a few on this particular walk. I'm not sure exactly what this one is, but it looks like a kind of shelf fungi. 

 Black Bear, wildlife camera

Black Bear, wildlife camera

We have a wildlife camera tied around a tree facing a path that we, as well as many of the forest animals, frequently walk. We've seen black bears and deer so far, but we also have cougars, which we have yet to see, fortunately. 

 Deer, wildlife camera

Deer, wildlife camera

When we got home in the evening, our bunny Violet, who is not used to spending much time alone, was very happy to see us and made sure she was the center of attention and cuddled with for the rest of the night. 

Anthony found himself with our video camera in a slow-motion setting at just the right moment to capture this very relaxed stretch and slightly terrifying yawn. 

We're staying inside now that the smoke has become much more thick over the past few days and trying to minimize the negative health implications of breathing in all of those particles, but it was interesting to see how it changed the light in the forest and spend a little time out in nature.

I hope everyone else has had a relaxing weekend and that you're safe and far away from all of the wildfires and heavy smoke. 

I'll be back with more recipes (and recipe videos) very soon!

From Junk Food Vegetarian to Whole Foods Vegan- How I Started Making Healthier Choices

 Me in 2013 with tostitos, Goldfish, and two bags of potato chips

Me in 2013 with tostitos, Goldfish, and two bags of potato chips

A few years ago, eating healthy food and spending time preparing meals used to be my absolute last priority. I was the definition of a junk food vegetarian, subsisting almost entirely on cheese flavored crackers, frozen pizza, and boxed mac and cheese. I was anxious, depressed, and I hardly had an appetite so I didn't think about my food choices at all and thought that spending money on food was a waste. I'd actually do the majority of my grocery shopping in the frozen/processed section of the dollar store, and only visit the grocery store when I needed to buy kale... for my rabbit. 

I was tired all the time, my BMI was dangerously low, and I felt like I had to wear makeup every day because my skin was constantly breaking out, but I thought that because I was thin it didn't matter what I ate. Since I've been underweight my whole life, as a teenager my pediatrician would even encourage me to binge on junk food so that I could possibly gain some weight, but what I didn't realize until I got older was that being thin does not equate with being healthy and that junk food was just as unhealthy for me as it would be for someone struggling to lose weight. 

The more I ate this way, the more I hated food. Every time I'd eat, I'd have less energy and feel a little more sick, so in an attempt to feel less sick I would eat smaller portions of the junk food, but that wasn't making me feel better either. 

I knew that I'd eventually have to learn how to cook and prepare healthy foods, and even before learning anything about nutrition I instinctively knew that whole fruits and vegetables were the magical foods that I needed to be eating more of- the problem was that they just didn't taste that good to me and I had no idea how to prepare them. It took a lot of daily practice and about one full year of cooking every day before I felt comfortable in the kitchen. 

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1. Allow yourself to spend a lot of time in the kitchen at first.

When I first started learning how to prepare whole unprocessed plant foods, chopping a sweet potato was terrifying. I had rarely used kitchen knives before and since I didn't have the skills, the process of preparing these foods went by painfully slowly. It would take me fifteen minutes to chop a single vegetable and after all that time spent chopping, I wouldn't even know how to flavor it so I'd end up with something that tasted bland, boring and seemingly not worth the effort. Overtime though I got a little faster at chopping and tried many recipes which taught me how to use different spices and flavors to make the food actually taste good.

I realized that a big part of what held me back from learning how to cook was the frustration I had with myself for not knowing my way around a kitchen. When I decided that eating healthy foods was going to be a priority, I had to remind myself every day that it's okay to be a slow and unexperienced cook and that the only way I'd ever get better was if I prepared food every day, several times a day, until it became easier. 

After about a year of cooking every meal from scratch, chopping seven different kinds of vegetables for a soup became no big deal. I'm glad I took it slow while I was learning because now I have the confidence to use big sharp knives and to work a little faster-and I kept all my fingers in the process! It's more than okay to work slowly and make mistakes, it's a necessary part of the learning process and it gets so much easier with practice.

2. Pay attention to how you are feeling after each meal.

 My "Dinner" in 2013- It's been almost 4 years now since I last had alcohol and 3 years cheese-free

My "Dinner" in 2013- It's been almost 4 years now since I last had alcohol and 3 years cheese-free

Making the choice to chop a bunch of vegetables for a salad or soup instead of having a frozen pizza might seem like an incredible feat of willpower and discipline, but there's no force involved when I make the choice to eat healthy foods. This is because I actually don't want or crave junk food anymore and the idea of eating even a single potato chip is entirely unappealing to me these days. Here's how I got there-

Around the time that I got into making healthier food choices, I was also learning about managing my anxiety and depression through the practice of bringing my focus back to the present moment and letting myself experience the feelings I had been running away from. Along with letting myself face difficult emotions, I was also being more present with the physical sensations in my body including the way my body felt after I'd eat certain foods.

When I first went vegan I ate a lot of oil-based faux cheese and plant based meat substitutes, but after eating them I'd take a moment to check in and see how they were affecting me. I realized that when I'd have poor digestion or skin breakouts, it directly correlated to what I had been eating. On the other hand, the more whole plant foods I ate the better I felt. 

After making a conscious effort to notice how these foods were making me feel, eventually when I saw a bag of potato chips or vegan cheese crackers at the grocery store, I didn't see it as food anymore. Real food became the colorful fresh items in the produce section, which gave me energy and lifted my mood, not the stuff with ingredient labels that made me feel low and clouded my head.

Don't expect to stop craving junk food overnight, but when you do occasionally have processed junk food just take the time to check in and see how it's affecting you. After making it a habit to pay attention to how each meal affects how you feel, it gets much easier to make the healthy choice. 

Our gut bacteria, which communicate directly to our brain, will cause us to crave more of whichever foods we're currently eating, so after a few weeks of consistently eating unprocessed whole plant foods, you'll find yourself craving a nice bean soup instead of something processed. Alternately, if you were eating healthy foods but then decide to have a bag of chips, for the next few days you'll likely spend a lot of time craving more chips and will find it harder to make the healthier choice again. This is why complete abstinence from these factory made food products is the most effective strategy for longterm healthy eating habits. 

 Instead of this...

Instead of this...

 Prepare  This!

Prepare This!

3. Find healthy whole food alternatives for all of your favorite comfort foods.

 No cow's cheese, vegan cheese, or nuts required to make this  creamy cauliflower-based sauce !

No cow's cheese, vegan cheese, or nuts required to make this creamy cauliflower-based sauce!

Ever since I can remember mac and cheese was my #1 favorite food. Growing up as a vegetarian in a house of meat-eaters meant that I always had to have my own separate meal, so to make things easier I ate a lot of frozen veggie burgers and boxed mac and cheese. I always had some vegetables on the side, but only if they were covered in a cheese sauce. Needless to say, giving up cheese was bound to be a difficult process for me. When I went vegan and learned about what happens to dairy cows and their babies I stopped eating all dairy products including cheese overnight, but my cravings for heavy, creamy foods continued. 

At first I curbed my cravings with processed vegan cheeses, then when I got confident enough in the kitchen I started making my own cheese sauces from soaked cashews and almonds. Most of the vegan mac and cheese recipes I found called for a whole cup or more of nuts, and I was finding that while these sauces were so heavy and delicious, I would break out after eating too much of them and they didn't make me feel my best, so I started lowering the amount of nuts in the cheese sauce recipes and I experimented with making my sauce bases from mostly vegetables instead. 

I was surprised to find that these vegetable-based homemade sauces were just as good if not better than the ones that contained mainly cashews! I developed cheese sauce recipes made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and even cauliflower, all of which taste creamy and delicious with very few nuts or seeds needed. While the processed vegan cheeses will definitely taste more like cow's cheese, these savory creamy sauces made from vegetables are just as satisfying in their own way, and the best part is how great I feel after eating them. 


Making the decision to fuel myself with nutrient-dense whole plant foods is the best decision I ever made and sticking to it has been easier than I'd ever imagined it could be.

Patience with yourself while learning how to prepare these foods, paying attention to how you feel after eating, and finding healthy alternatives to your favorite recipes will make the process fun and not feel like such a chore. Take things day by day and overtime you'll find that no willpower is required anymore and you'll naturally gravitate towards the foods that your body really needs.

I hope you found these tips helpful and I'll be back with more healthy recipes and tips very soon! ❁

Pros and Cons of Living in an Airstream Trailer After One Year

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Our Airstream Journey:

In January of 2017, we moved out of our studio apartment in Manhattan and into an Airstream travel trailer to live in full time while we relocated to Washington state. We spent our first month in the Airstream traveling, parking at a different campsite nearly every night while we slowly made our way across the country, covering roughly 5000 miles in total.

We started at the Airstream dealership, Colonial Airstream in New Jersey, and headed south through Virginia and Tennessee and then started moving westward through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, all before going north again up through California and Oregon and eventually arriving at our final destination near Seattle, Washington.

 Camping in Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas

Camping in Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas

It was this long trip that made us fall in love with this lifestyle. Living in a travel trailer gave us the freedom to all travel together, our rabbit included, and have adventures in amazing new places every day, but still be able to come back to a place that felt like home. 

One we arrived in Seattle, we found a long term parking spot where we have lived in the trailer for the past year. While we loved traveling, Anthony's job is in Seattle, so after our month long adventure moving here we knew we were going to have to enjoy a more stationary life in the Airstream. 

In all of our "What Could Go Wrong?" lists and planning we had made before we began our Airstream adventure, we fully expected most of the problems to arise during the month of travel and figured that once we arrived at our final location it would be smooth sailing from there. Surprisingly, it was just the opposite.

While we travelled, everything worked out almost perfectly, there were no major issues to report all throughout our trip, and when we arrived in Seattle we were so relieved to start living in the trailer in a fixed location. It started feeling like an actual home and we were able to start a garden and see a different, maybe slightly less adventurous part Airstream living. Little did we know, this is when the real adventures and lessons would begin. 


What We Didn't Love about Living in the Airstream:

I'm going to start with the cons or the negative experiences we had while living in our Airstream so that we can end on a positive note. It doesn't feel right to even say anything bad at all about our experience because overall, we loved it and would do it over again in a heartbeat, but I think some of what we experienced, the good and the bad, could be helpful if this is a lifestyle you're interested in and want to hear about the full spectrum of experiences we had.

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The Small Stuff:

These are just the little minor inconveniences we don't hear mentioned too often about what it's really like to live in an Airstream full-time.

  • When you first move in, expect lots of small injuries. The process of adapting to a smaller space involves a lot more cuts, bangs and bruises than we had anticipated. Whether it's bumping your head on the light fixtures or smashing your elbow coming too quickly around a sharp corner, expect to get a little beat up while you form that muscle memory that eventually guides you more smoothly through your new space. 
  • Metal riveted walls look beautiful, but they can and they will eventually cut you. Every single time I wiped down the walls especially around the kitchen, I'd get cuts from the sharp edges of the metal. It's not jagged metal or anything, but it's blade-sharp metal that leaves thin, fast-healing cuts. Obviously still not ideal, but just something to be aware of when polishing those shiny walls. 
  • I managed to overdraw on power almost daily and we had 50 amp hookups. This wasn't such an issue when we were travelling, but once we were parked for good and we got out the rice cooker, blender, and several more kitchen appliances, the limits of 50 amp power became much more pronounced. 
  • The layout of an Airstream is designed for travel and adventures, not for being parked in the same spot for a year like a stationary home. While we enjoyed our time in that one spot, we found ourselves not going out as much as when we were travelling and through staying inside a lot the furniture seemed to get less and less comfortable everyday. This is no fault of the Airstream, but just a sign that if we weren't going to be using the trailer for travel anymore like it was intended, we would have to make some modifications for it suit our needs. 

The time someone tried to break in at 2 a.m.

Our long term parking spot was located in the town of Bothell, a rapidly growing suburb of Seattle, which had always felt like a pretty safe place to be. We lived near an RV park, but a little out of the way in one of their long-term spots on a hill top surrounded by a beautiful meadow and lots of tall trees. We had two other RV neighbors, but they both had homes and only stayed in their RVs during the work week, so we were usually all alone on the weekends. 

One rainy Saturday night in November of 2017, we awoke to some strange sounds coming from the outside of our trailer. It sounded like someone or something climbing on the Airstream and then we thought we heard someone try to open the door as well, which was locked. We turned on the lights and tried to figure out what was going on and that's when we heard yelling. Anthony looked out the window to try to see who it was and that's when he saw a man standing on top of the trailer next to ours smashing his foot through their roof vent. Immediately he called 911. 

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Five minutes later a police officer arrived and then shortly after several more police officers showed up. They told us they believed someone was inside our neighbor's trailer. We told them no one was supposed to be in there because the family that lives there goes home on the weekends. They surrounded the trailer, guns drawn, and yelled through the megaphone urging the occupant to come out of the trailer several times. Eventually they pried off the door and sent in a police dog followed by several officers. What happened next was the craziest thing I've ever seen. 

Out of the trailer came the dog and multiple officers escorting out a completely naked man in handcuffs with pupils the size of dinner plates. All of the officers cheered-- they seemed very happy to have caught the perpetrator and that no one was hurt. They tried to get him to sit down but it was apparent that he had consumed a lot of meth and was covered in injection wounds. They kept trying to give him a blanket to cover up with but he threw it on the ground repeatedly, determined to stay completely naked. 

The cops later told us that he admitted to leading them on a high speed car chase earlier that night, ditched his jeep at a local auto shop and took off running before ending up on our hilltop where he was trying to find a place to hide out. He was trying to get into our trailer, but since it's rounded and it was raining, he wasn't able to get onto the roof. He must've heard us wake up and that's when he started yelling before climbing up the ladder on our neighbors trailer, which has a flat roof, and found it much easier to get inside. While he was inside our neighbors trailer he took off all his clothes, did some more meth, drank their milk, and relaxed in their bed. It didn't seem like he was there to steal anything, but more like he was just really high on meth and didn't know what was going on anymore. He kept telling the police they'd need to buy him a new door for his trailer. 

The owners of the trailer showed up a few hours later and were very fortunate that they, and their two small children, weren't home when this guy came crashing through their bathroom ceiling vent. He was arrested for vehicle prowling and spent a night in jail before being released with a pending court date. 

After this terrifying experience, it really began to sink in for us that while our trailer felt like a home, we were actually living in a vehicle. We still felt fairly safe knowing that our Airstream was more difficult to break into than other trailers, and if anything this put the Airstream through an interesting safety test, but the reality of what could've happened that night gave us a lot to consider about staying safe while living in an RV. Since this incident we have taken several more self-defense and safety measures. 


The time a tree almost fell on our trailer:

Earlier in March of 2018, A powerful windstorm brought down a giant Douglas fir tree which landed right next to our trailer while we were home. This was caused by the seven acres of forest being cleared next to us, so this tree was exposed to high winds it was never meant to endure. This was the second major close call to happen to us in that spot, and we didn't want to wait around for the third strike. 

While we wanted to keep the trailer, we didn't have anywhere else we could park it. The land we purchased last summer doesn't have a septic or running water yet, so we couldn't take it out there, and all of the RV parks in our area aside from the one we were staying at would be a very far drive from Anthony's work. This is why we made the sudden decision to move out and sell our trailer.

For the full story check out my post here

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What We Loved about Living in the Airstream:

Overall, we loved our experience of living in an Airstream travel trailer. While our time spent traveling and staying at a new campsite every night was by far the best part of the lifestyle, it was still an amazing experience to live in the Airstream in a fixed location. It really began to feel like home.

Here's some of our favorite things about living in the Airstream-

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  • We expected with our daily living and use of the trailer that eventually something would break and we'd need to take the trailer in for repairs. We figured maybe it'd be the water heater failing, or the AC breaking, but to our surprise and delight nothing major ever broke. Some minor things broke- the small round mirror in our bathroom fell off the wall during our travels and our awning arm got bent in a wind storm, but nothing major failed on us the whole year that we lived there. Airstreams are built to last and we experienced that first-hand. 
  • Living in a smaller space also helped us to stay more organized. There are so many little storage nooks in creative places all over the trailer, so there was always a place for everything, and while we couldn't have tons of items fit in there, everything that we did own had a place. The small size of the place also made cleaning much easier. Vacuuming takes only a few minutes in a trailer and having less space really inspires you to keep the free space that you do have clean and tidy. 
  • Since we chose the International Serenity model of Airstream, which has more windows instead of overhead storage, our space was always bright which made us feel much more connected to the outdoors. 
  • The kitchen in the Airstream is in many ways better than any apartment kitchen I've ever had. The convection oven/microwave can cook anything, and some things it cooks much better than any regular oven could. The sink is super deep, which is important since there's no dishwasher, but you could tell a lot of consideration was put into these small things and it made using the Airstream kitchen daily a very pleasant experience. If you love to cook, you won't be sacrificing anything that you love about cooking while living in an Airstream. 
  • We were worried that living in such a small space would start to feel cramped or restricted, but that was never our experience. There was just enough space to feel comfortable and we rarely found ourselves wishing we had more room. Even after a full year of living there and acquiring more things, we always found creative ways of storing them. We were definitely glad to have decided on the 30 ft. trailer for our full-time living situation.
  • The trailer passed an important, albeit terrifying, experience when someone tried to break in and failed. This was likely because of the round shape of the trailer which he had difficulty climbing on top of and also the secure lock on our door. I think if someone really wanted to break into anything, our trailer included, they probably could, but Airstream has done a good job of not making it the easiest thing in the world. If you are considering a trailer with a flat roof and a ladder on the back, I'd advise you to consider how that might invite in the wrong kind of company, even if you live in a safe place, that's still a big risk to take. 
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Ultimately, we are so grateful for our time spent in the Airstream and we would go back and do it all over again if we could. It was an incredible experience which taught us a lot about ourselves and enabled us to have adventures that we'll always remember. 

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One day, we might get another smaller Airstream for actual traveling as opposed to living in it like a full-time home, but for now since we don't have any travel plans and are starting to settle in to living in Washington, that won't be happening anytime soon. While we wish we could have kept living in the Airstream for another year while we build our house, we know we made the right decision to part with our Airstream at this point since we were no longer traveling and taking it out for adventures.

"A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.”

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For more information, click the button below to check out our videos documenting our travels in the Airstream on Youtube!

Why We're Moving Out & Selling Our Airstream Travel Trailer

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If you had told us one week ago that we'd be selling our Airstream travel trailer and moving back into an apartment, we wouldn't have believed it. Up until last week we couldn't see any reason to ever want to sell our trailer and move. We expected that we would live in it at least for the next year while building our house and then possibly keep it around for years to come. Then, a windstorm came and changed everything for us. 

At around 7 pm last Thursday, Anthony had just gotten home from work and was feeling very anxious about the weather. The winds were gusting upwards of 50 mph, and as we live on a hilltop in the convergent zone, the gusts can get especially intense. As the gusts grew stronger and stronger, Anthony became more concerned and couldn't do anything other than look out the windows and watch as the tall evergreen trees next to us were bending sideways.

I was trying to stay calm. We had been through worse windstorms in the trailer before and had only seen a few small branches go flying by so I figured this would be the case with this storm as well. I even started to get upset with Anthony for his fixation on the wind and inability to relax. My intuition that night was completely wrong. 

Anthony was looking out the window during a particularly huge sustained gust and watched as the giant evergreen trees next to us bent completely sideways. He yelled over to me that one was about to go down and suddenly we heard a loud crack. I screamed and covered my head, attempting to brace for the potential impact of a 200 ft. fir tree smashing through our aluminum trailer. Time slowed down and the sound of the crack felt long and slow and then we heard the booming sound of the tree hitting the ground next to our trailer.

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We looked outside to find that this giant tree had been completely uprooted and landed 20 ft away from us. It had taken out a couple of smaller trees on it's way down as well. We didn't want to stick around and wait for another one to fall, so we grabbed our bunny, Violet, and all got in the car to go wait out the storm in the parking lot across the street where we could watch the trees bend over our trailer from a distance.

This is the point when we began to discuss the idea of selling the trailer and moving into an apartment. 

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Aside from our current spot, RV parks which are a reasonable distance to Anthony's work basically don't exist, so we didn't really have the option to move the trailer somewhere else. We considered staying where we are, but we were still surrounded by several more tall evergreen trees and knew we didn't want to be near them in the next wind storm.

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The tall trees next to our trailer were all old evergreen trees that used to be in the middle of a dense natural forest, but recently after 7 acres of forest were cleared on the lot next to us (as shown in our last video) these old trees were now being exposed to high winds that they were never meant to endure. It became clear to us after talking with the RV park staff as well as the contractor on the 7 acre lot next to us, that no one was going to be watching out for us and checking on these trees. We had to make the difficult decision to take our safety into our own hands, so we decided to sell the trailer and move.

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This past weekend was incredibly sad for us because we loved our life in the Airstream and it didn't feel right to end our adventure of living in it so soon, but we knew it was the right decision for us and that we needed to take our safety concerns seriously after such a close brush with what could've been a disaster. 

 Our bunny Violet, adapting to our new place

Our bunny Violet, adapting to our new place

We found an apartment walking distance to Anthony's work and spent this past week moving in and adjusting to apartment life again. While this doesn't change our long-term plans, and we still plan on being in our house that we're building a year from now, no longer living in an Airstream and moving back into a city is a big adjustment for us.

There are certainly many things we have now in our apartment that we didn't have in the trailer and it definitely feels luxurious to have all of the standard amenities again, but there's still a lot we're going to miss about our life in the trailer. 

I'll be writing a post soon about all of the pros and cons of living in an Airstream travel trailer full time for more of a detailed look at what we loved and what we didn't so much love about RV life, but until then I just wanted to post this update for anyone who was curious to know why we made such a sudden change.

We'll be continuing to make videos and share our experiences with our next adventure of building our house which hopfully will be starting in the fall.

Life in the Airstream Update & Lots of Cute Wild Animals Are Visiting!

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For the past year, I've been living fulltime in a 30 ft. Airstream travel trailer in Washington with my partner, Anthony, and our dwarf rabbit, Violet. When we made the decision to leave our apartment in New York City and move across the country to Washington, we decided that the best way for all of us to get there would be in an RV and that we would continue to live in the RV while we look for land and eventually build a house. 

Over the summer, we found and purchased 7 acres of beautiful forested land and are now currently in the final stages of designing the house and getting ready to start the long process of applying for building permits. Since it's been quite cold here these past few months, we haven't been spending as much time out at the property, so we've mostly been inside the trailer working on making some of the big decisions that come along with building a house. 

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After a full year of living in our trailer, we are so happy with the decision we made. While the space is pretty small, the amount of windows and skylights makes it feel much more open. There's definitely not enough room in here to have everything we want, but it's been a good lesson in living more minimally and being careful to not accumulate stuff that we don't absolutely need. 

That being said, there have been certain non-essential items that we have been accumulating recently which have brought us a lot of joy and entertainment- mainly our bird feeders, of which we now have four or maybe even five... I've lost count. 

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Most of them are the kind that suction right to the window so we can creep on the birds as they feast on their seeds. We have one on the kitchen window so I can watch the birds as I do the dishes and cook, but we also have a lot of them around our bedroom as well and it's the best thing to wake up to see beautiful birds at the window every morning.

It's been so much fun to see the variety of birds that come by and to try to identify them. After a few months of feeding them, they've started growing their families and because of this we've also been getting more visits from big predatory birds like owls and eagles, but we don't have any pictures of those big guys unfortunately. 

Over the past few weeks we've been taking lots of pictures and videos, and we've especially been enjoying the short animated gifs that are made automatically on our phones, so i thought I'd share a few here!

This pretty bird is called a Northern Flicker:

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He's a type of woodpecker and one of the loudest visitors to our feeder because he likes to use his long beak to peck at the seeds and send them flying everywhere. 

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Another bird who's been visiting lately is the vibrant blue Stellar's Jay. They usually come in pairs or small groups and have such a pretty bird song.

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All too often though, our most common visitors have been the squirrels. No matter where we set up the feeder, they find their way in and eat nearly all of the seeds before the birds can get any. I only have slightly more patience with them than Anthony does because they're still so cute. 

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Then we have the deer, who we believe may be the reason our broccoli plants have some big bites taken out of them. The other day they came right up behind our trailer and we watched them graze and play in the meadow.

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Okay, that's probably enough wildlife photos for this update!

One more thing, for now I've deactivated my instagram page @wholesomelyelle. I haven't been enjoying using it since they changed it from chronological order to an algorithm-based feed, and also since I haven't been on Facebook for the past 4 years, it felt strange to still participate in a Facebook-owned platform when that's not what I had signed up for originally. I may still reactivate it in the future, but I just wanted to take a break for a while to focus on other things. 

For now that means you'll be hearing a lot more from me right here on my blog and hopefully more on Youtube as well! I'll continue to post updates on life in the Airstream and more healthy recipes will be coming your way this week so check back in for more soon!

How I Downsized My Wardrobe Before Moving into an RV- Regrets, Dealing with Non-Vegan Items, & Alternatives to Fast-Fashion

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Almost exactly one year ago, my partner and I moved out of our 200 square ft. studio apartment in NYC and into a 150 square ft. Airstream travel trailer. Losing out on 50 square feet of space may not seem like all that much, and honestly it wasn't much of a big change at all, but the large amount of clothes and shoes I had managed to cram into our tiny apartment closet was more than I felt like I needed.

I knew that I had to sell or donate lots of clothing and shoes which I had accumulated over the years of working in retail and also from accepting sponsored clothing as a fashion blogger. I had piles and piles of clothes, crazy high heels, leather boots, all of which were no longer in alignment with who I felt like I was anymore or what I wanted to support or promote. 

Most of my clothes were way more bold and attention-grabbing than I felt comfortable with anymore. I'm not even exaggerating, a significant portion of my wardrobe was actually rainbow tie-dye or holographic.

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I don’t know if this is just a side-effect of getting older, as I’m 26 years old now and most of those clothing items I had gathered in my late teens and early 20s, but I knew I had to make some changes to my wardrobe if I was going to be leaving NYC and moving into a smaller space outside of a big city. I also knew that I no longer wanted to support fast fashion brands or buy any new clothes or shoes made from animal products.

How I got rid of most of my clothes:

Some of my clothes were worn very lightly or even still had tags on them so I knew I wanted to try to sell them to get some money back, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. Then I heard about an app called Poshmark. I created an account on there and began the process of photographing and listing my freshest, best quality, name-brand items. I priced everything to sell quickly as I didn’t have a ton of time, and to my surprise and relief everything sold very quickly.

I’ve also heard of people having success on a similar app called Depop, but since Poshmark worked so well for me I stuck with that one. Poshmark is a US only site though so consider Depop if you live anywhere else in the world.

There were also some well-worn items of clothing that I loved so much, specifically tons of vintage dresses I had accumulated over the years. At one point in my life I worked at five different vintage clothing stores all at the same time. That meant working at a different location of each vintage clothing store every day of the week all over different parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Needless to say I accumulated a lot of vintage items.

I decided to save three of my favorite vintage dresses, even though I don’t get to wear them often these days, and the rest of my well-loved clothing items I gave to friends who didn’t mind the rips and imperfections. It felt really good to give away some of the clothes that I had sentimental attachments to to my friends because I knew they would love them as much as I did.

The rest of my clothes which I couldn’t sell or friends didn’t want, were all donated to a local Goodwill. This was about two giant duffle bags worth of clothing and shoes.

Regrets & what I wish I had kept:

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While I don’t need a lot of fancy clothes anymore as I don’t go to parties or events, there’s one item I definitely regret donating and think about often and that’s this vintage ruffled lace top.

I gave it away because it had always been too big on me, but I didn’t realize how unique of an item it was and how difficult it would be to find a replacement for. I could have gotten it tailored to fit me or worn it with a top underneath, but in the rush of clearing out my closet, it got donated and I definitely miss it a lot.

Is it a practical item to have in my wardrobe? No. But sometimes when we find something that’s special to us and as unique as vintage clothing items can be, it’s good to think over the decision to part with them a little more carefully as they will be nearly impossible to replace.

Things I kept that I probably shouldn't have but did anyway:

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My most cherished clothing item which I still have in the closet of our tiny RV, is my white frilly late-1970s gunne sax dress. There’s definitely a theme going on with all of my most loved clothing items and it has something to do with white lace, high victorian collars and ruffles.

I haven't even worn it since moving into the RV, so clearly it doesn’t make any rational sense to keep it around, but having just one special vintage dress there that I could wear should the occasion ever present itself makes me feel happy, and since we have the closet space in our RV I’ll be keeping it for now.

I don’t think minimalism and downsizing should be as all-or-nothing as some make it out to be. A lot of people have said if you haven’t worn something in a year or even six months, that it’s time to get rid of it. Generally, that’s sound advice, and for most items in our wardrobe this makes sense, but I think this mindset of having less just for the sake of having less and getting rid of your most favorite impractical item could leave you with regrets in the future, so maybe don't apply it to every single item.

 

Things I still have from before I went vegan (Leather, Wool, Fast-Fashion):

When I went vegan in 2015, I knew that changing my diet would be the easy part. However, I had a closet full of animal-based clothing. All of my shoes were leather and so was my favorite bag which I took with me everywhere.

At first, I didn’t stress about it and decided I’d continue to wear the leather shoes and bags and replace stuff as I go. Then, about three weeks after going vegan, I got a job working at a vegan shoe store and suddenly I had replaced many of my shoes and bags way faster than I had ever expected to be possible.

When this happened, I began to either donate or give to friends all of my leather stuff. Some of the stuff I hadn’t even found replacements for yet, but at this point I was beginning to see leather for what it was, cow’s skin, and it genuinely gave me the creeps. Parting with my leather stuff became much easier once I fully allowed myself to understand the cruelty in it.

Wool, however, is almost just as cruel. Even though you don’t have to kill a sheep to take their wool, and sheep must be shorn because they are bred to produce so much wool, the practice of breeding these human-dependent, product-producing, sweet gentle creatures into existence and treating them like commodities is just wrong. In a profit-driven system, sheep are shorn as fast as possible to save money and time, which often results in injuries or death to the sheep, and once their wool production drops as they age, they are sent to the slaughterhouse.

I don’t even like wool as a fabric, sure it’s warm, but it’s also so itchy. Still though, I have a few items in my tiny RV closet that contain wool that I have yet to replace. Being that wool is not skin, it doesn’t gross me out quite as much as leather so I can almost tolerate it being in my wardrobe, although I’m still not proud of it and I don’t promote it to others. I definitely don’t plan on buying anything with wool in the future, but for now my two wool sweaters and one light purple wool jacket are some of the warmest winter clothes I currently have and they’ll be with me until I can afford to replace them.

While I would love to have a closet full of entirely sweatshop free clothing, the truth is that some of the clothing items I have are from back in the day when I’d shop at companies that use sweatshop labor like Zara and H&M. Fortunately, these clothing items are few and far between because most of my clothing is thrifted, but there are still some items that I bought before I was shopping more consciously.

I still wear those items occasionally, but since I don't want to promote them, when people ask where I got them from I either say I forgot or I straight up tell them it’s from a fast fashion brand so it’s likely long gone from production and also not from a place I actively support anymore.

What I’ve learned through downsizing my wardrobe and trying to have a more ethical closet:

The journey towards a smaller and more ethical wardrobe is going to be a long process that looks a little different for everyone. You shouldn’t take an all-or-nothing approach and get rid of every impractical or unethical item all at once, because it’s usually not that easy to replace so many items quickly.

When you first start to connect to the truth of what you are purchasing, especially with going vegan, you might feel like you want to get rid of everything but then you realize how expensive it can be to buy new clothes that aren’t made in sweatshops. Sure there are always thrift stores, but this isn’t practical for many busy people who don’t have the time to sort through everything. This is why I never want to push my views on other people and fully get why everyone can’t 100% stop buying fast fashion and go completely eco-friendly or vegan.

The process is going to depend peoples unique circumstances and ability to make these big changes. The fact that so many people are beginning to think about these things and care about what they are supporting with their dollar is a huge step in the right direction. Even if they’re not at the point yet where what they are purchasing reflects their values for whatever reasons.

It’s important to not get wrapped up in having to be completely perfect or make the most ethical choice every single time, but just to bring more awareness to each purchase and consider where it’s coming from and the effect that’s having on the world. Not to feel guilty when we make a “bad” purchase or go the other way and adopt a virtuous identity as a consumer who makes more conscious ethical choices, but just to simply connect with the reality of what we are doing regardless, so that we don’t blindly consume and end up with a bunch of junk that we don’t need or that falls apart after one wash cycle.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Are you trying to buy less and/or buy things that are vegan and sweatshop-free?

I plan to write more about this topic going forward and eventually do a tiny closet tour to show some of my favorite ethically-made vegan clothing and shoes, so check back in for that if this is a topic you're interested in!


Making The Connection Between Diet and Depression


 Pomegranates are high in vitamin c and contain antioxidants which can help prevent depression

Pomegranates are high in vitamin c and contain antioxidants which can help prevent depression

We all experience sadness every now and again, especially during certain times in our lives and in the face of extremely difficult circumstances. There are times when it’s completely appropriate to feel sad, and that sadness is something that we can’t expect to be cured through diet, it’s a normal part of the human experience. But when the sadness is persistent and seems to follow us around wherever we go, that is called depression.

Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in our brain, which is a problem that can sometimes be solved through making better dietary choices. 

There are many studies demonstrating the relationship between higher fruit and vegetable consumption and a lower risk of depression. Generally the research shows that the more whole plant foods you eat, the lower your risk of depression.

There are a number of components through which which fruits and vegetables prevent depression. Lycopene, the red pigment predominantly found in tomatoes, but also present in watermelon, pink grapefruit, red cabbage, and carrots, is the most powerful antioxidant amongst the carotenoid family. If you measure the levels of carotenoid phytonutrients in nearly 2,000 people across the country, a higher total blood carotenoid level was associated with a lower likelihood of elevated depressive symptoms, and there appeared to be a dose-response relationship, meaning the higher the levels, the better people felt.

Polyphenols, found in fruit and vegetables fight oxidative stress and improve the functioning of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for regulating our moods. And vitamin C, found in high amounts in many fruits and vegetables, is actually a cofactor in the production of Dopamine

So with this direct effect on our neurochemistry, it should be no surprise that fruits and vegetables have the ability to lift our mood. Does this mean that the answer to depression is just to eat more fruits and vegetables? Well, not quite.

It turns out certain foods actually have the ability to make us more depressed. Arachidonic acid is a type of Omega 6 fatty acid found in animal-based foods with the highest amounts found in chicken, eggs, beef, sausage, and fish. The oxidation of Arachidonic acid creates pro-inflammatory compounds in our body. This inflammation in our brain adversely impacts our mental health.

In this study on women, higher levels of Arachidonic acid were associated with a 45% higher risk of suicide and 47% increase risk in major depressive episodes. 

When people are put on a plant based diet that limits Arachidonic acid, they experienced an improved mood after just 2 weeks. Plant based diets were also associated with 30% less markers for inflammation. So when choosing a diet that will have the greatest affect on our mood, it's not just about adding in more fruits and vegetables, but also removing the animal based foods that cause inflammation, as depression may actually be a physical disease which is exacerbated by proinflammatory compounds. 


Thank you to Mic. The Vegan and Dr. Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org for gathering and organizing so many of these studies on diet and depression and making them visible and accessible to more people. Watch Mike's recent video on the subject and also this video by Dr. Greger to learn more about how our diet affects our mood. 


 

 

Why Positive Thinking Might Not Always Be Beneficial

“The philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.” -Osho

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Of the many traps we can fall into on our journey towards better emotional resilience, positive thinking is a clever mirage that can lead us even further into the dark. 

A common topic these days is the power of manifestation and the law of attraction. "Think rich and become rich" is the promise, and if that doesn't work for you, well you must still have some limiting negative thoughts. For 1% of the population, things might pan out this way and it may seem like the positive thoughts were the cause of the good fortune. Sometimes someone may actually wish for something and receive it, but 99% of the time, our wishes will not be fulfilled by the sheer power of positive thoughts, and this outcome will have nothing to do with whether the thoughts they had were majority positive or negative. 

Positive thinking attempts to erase the negative, when both sides are needed for balance and wholeness. Positivity goes against awareness and asks that you choose what it is you want to see and what you don't want to see, rather than surrender and accept what is. It will only repress your awareness and cause an imbalance. At a certain point these repressed emotions will come out, there's no way around them. By smiling when you feel angry or laughing when you feel sad, you're being insincere to yourself and others.

When you feel an emotion, whether you deem it to be good or bad, you must bring it into your awareness and see it fully for it to pass through. By choosing to not see emotions when they are present, they will stick around waiting for a time to be released, and it will never be the "right" time. There's nothing honorable or stoic about faking our way to appearing outwardly like happier people when on the inside we still haven't dealt with the cause of our unhappiness. To live a life full of authenticity means to ride the ups and the downs, not holding any attachment or deriving any sense of identity from either the peaks or the valleys. 

There are also those who have a negative philosophy, though they often don't talk about it like the positive thinkers do because there's not as big of an audience for that kind of talk. Negative thinking is just as much as of a limiting belief as positive thinking. In fact, a negative world view is often what causes the clinging to the positive in the first place. They are two sides of the same coin and both views miss the big picture.

Don't limit your awareness by choosing a side, instead choose the full experience. Life has so much more to offer beyond our futile attempts at deciding which thoughts, actions or events are positive and which are negative. There is a place beyond these dualities that exists only in your full awareness to the present moment and all that it has to offer. It's in this acceptance of the full spectrum of everything life has to offer that we can experience the wonder that is being. ☯

 

 

Could Gut Bacteria Be Causing Your Anxiety?

Ever had a gut feeling? Or a sensation of butterflies in your stomach? Our gut and our brain may be more connected than than it might seem. 

 Illustration by Gaby D'Allesandro

Illustration by Gaby D'Allesandro

The digestive system and the bacteria colonies that inhabit it, are known as our second brain. The good bacteria, called symbionts, are responsible for regulating immune function, aiding digestion and absorption, making vitamins, and reducing bloating. These good bacteria require fiber and are nourished by whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Pathobionts, which are the disease causing microbes, are fed by meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods/fast food. 

We can choose which bacteria we want to nourish and thrive, by eating the foods that the good bacteria like to eat, fiber-rich whole plant foods. Eat more fiber and these anti-inflammatory bacteria will thrive, eat less fiber and they will die off. 

Through research on laboratory mice, we have seen how gut bacteria can have a direct effect on mood and demeanor. They were able to reduce anxiety in stressed mice by feeding them the healthy microbes from fecal material collected from calm mice. They also fed the mice probiotics to encourage the continued growth of healthy bacteria, and over the next few weeks their stress levels continued to diminish (1).

The absence of these good gut bacteria has been linked not only to anxiety, but also eating disorders, PTSD, depression, obesity, autism, IBS, and many other chronic conditions. It might be that many mental and physical health conditions are due to unhealthy populations of gut bacteria, and can be corrected with proper diet. 

When I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD from childhood trauma, as well as anorexia, at the time my diet consisted of daily egg and cheese sandwiches, pringles, and nutter butter cookies. I had no interest in food, so I chose what was most convenient and foods I had always liked as a kid. For about four years I ate this way, and my mental and physical health began to deteriorate. I tried many medications to dull the symptoms, and while they were helpful in some ways, they didn't ever solve the problem. 

I did eventually find a depression medication that worked well for me, and while on it I started to care about my health and wellbeing again. This snapped me out of it just enough that I was able to develop a genuine interest in which foods were healthy and also the ethics of my food choices. I was ready to face the truth of the cruel and also unhealthy foods I was eating and went vegan overnight after watching a few documentaries. At first I still ate some processed vegan foods, but slowly I learned how to cook vegetables, beans, whole grains and other healthy plant foods and made these the main focus of my diet. 

I felt so much better immediately that I was able to go right off my medication, and I continued to feel more clarity and calmness while the anxiety and depression diminished. The apathy I felt around food, which was fueled by my depression and causing a lack of appetite, had completely disappeared and was replaced by a curiosity and enthusiasm to try new healthy recipes. 

If you suffer from any emotional imbalances or patterns of anxious thoughts, one of the first things you try should be a whole foods plant based diet. Gradually, make more of your meals based around unprocessed plant foods and save the junk for special occasions. You will feel a major shift in your wellbeing and ability to handle all of the ups and downs life throws at us. When our gut bacteria are happy and well fed, so are we. 

 

How to Stop a Panic Attack Immediately

A couple of years ago, I used to suffer from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. While living in New York City, simply stepping outside and walking along the crowded streets, was enough to send me into a full blown state of panic. I remember feeling like an elephant sat down on my chest, I wanted to run but my body felt frozen and unable to move, and then suddenly it would become very hard to breathe- this was always the scariest part.

What doesn't work:

So naturally, I went to see a psychiatrist, and he wanted to put me on heavy duty benzodiazepine medications. I took these medications, and he kept having to raise the dose as my tolerance increased and the panic attacks got worse and worse. The higher the dose of medication, the more I lost my sense of self. I would forget what I was saying mid-sentence and couldn't retain any information, I basically had the memory of a goldfish. This was not a sustainable way to manage my anxiety.

When I would go for my therapy appointments, the doctor would tell me I needed to sit very still and focus on taking deep breaths. Whenever I did this I felt the panic actually increase. How could I sit still with this fear coursing through my veins and while my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest? Sitting still and focusing on breathing always made it 10x worse. I began to feel like I must not be doing something right. I was following all of his instructions but was getting worse rather than better. I was losing all hope.

Why our bodies have this panic mechanism:

First, we have to understand what anxiety is and why we have this mechanism to panic in the first place. Doctor Doug Lisle of Esteem Dynamics explains all of this perfectly in this video, but I will try to sum up the basics here. If we look at what anxiety is, essentially it is a warning device to tell you to avoid something. To figure out why we have this mechanism, we must look back in time at our ancestral history.

About 100,000 years ago all human beings were in Africa, so a lot of what our bodies became adapted to are the problems that would have faced our african ancestors during this time. So you're walking through the tall grasses and all of a sudden you see a lion. Immediately, you're going to freeze, as not to catch the attention of the predator. This same behavior happens with panic attacks. The next thing that happens in this situation, is you start to sweat. This is meant to cool you down ahead of time so that you can be prepared to run without becoming overheated which would slow you down. Your breathing also becomes restricted, which is a mechanism designed to raise your blood pressure and allows the cardiovascular system to push blood away from your viscera and into your the muscles of your legs, preparing you to run for your life.

What does work:

Your body is trying to protect you and this fight or flight mode is it's best defense in times when you actually need to get to safety. Every single one of these uncomfortable symptoms are there to save your life. A panic attack isn't really an attack, it's an adaptation. So how can we work with this adaptation, rather than against it?

Sitting down and breathing deeply usually won't help, and cognitive therapy where you're told that it's not a big deal, that there's nothing to worry about, usually doesn't help either. What actually does work, is to let the system do what it wants to do. As a prey species, the only thing that will break the freeze to move through the process as it would have naturally occurred. When you have a panic attack, you can stop it in its tracks by getting up out of your chair and running in place. What you'll find is after roughly 15 minutes of jogging in place you'll be tired and out of breath and you'll feel like sitting down. Your breathing will now be deeper, and your brain will see that and decide you must've outrun the predator. It will then start dialing down the adrenaline, and your state will return to normal.

Alternatively, if you're in a public place or seated and you can't just start jogging in place, you can exhaust your leg muscles by crossing your legs and pushing them together for 30 seconds or so repeatedly or until your muscles feel tired. Once your muscles have been exhausted your brain will stop sending out the panic signal and your body will calm down automatically.

I've found this practice to be more helpful than anything I've ever tried because it allows me to move through the anxiety and work with it, rather than suppress it and fight against it. While I rarely experience panic attacks now that my body has fully adjusted to being off medication for a few years, when I do feel anxious it's a lot less scary now knowing that I have this method to help me through it if I need it.

Now you have the tools to short-circuit the attack. Try it out yourself the next time you experience anxiety or a panic attack and see if it could help you too!